Assessing Generalship… and doing it properly!

Couple weeks back I posted a couple of examples and asked “are these guys incompetent?”  That was somewhat a leading question, given Generals Burnside and Slocum, based on how the men are usually received… maybe rated is a better word… by historians and the general lot of us Civil War aficionados.  The knot I was picking at was assessing generalship… historically speaking.

The problem, as I see it, is such ratings and assessments are often given from the ex post facto and from the safety of the armchair or writing desk.  And that is not a dig at those of us 150 years removed.  Rather saying we should… read, must… use the greater access to details and perspectives which our position relative to the place and time affords.  In other words, we should approach such assessments with a degree of formality.  Simply saying, “he was a bad general” is not enough.  We should be able to quantify!

Quantify, well that means we need standards, definitions.  So exactly is generalship?

A simple dictionary definition will reference something to the effect, “exercising military skills in command of a military unit.”  Somewhat generic for our need.  We probably should say one need be a general, in rank, or at least holding a general’s post in responsibility.  A battery commander, who is a captain, would not be demonstrating generalship in command of his four, or six, guns.  Likewise, a general managing a battery is not really demonstrating generalship (though arguably… demonstrating a lack of generalship!).

And what of these “military skills”?  Many will point immediately to tactics and strategy.  But that is somewhat an overshot.  We can certainly say tactics and strategy are part of the mix.  But those are really a subset of skills grouped into larger skill-sets (to use a redundant buzzword).  Instead, I’d offer a definition along these lines:

Generalship: The military skill of exercising command, control, and management of a military unit which is designated as befitting a general’s rank (i.e. brigade, division, or higher command).

I think it is important to focus on those three skill-sets – command, control, and management.

A good place to start is with Army Field Manual 6-0 (FM 6-0), titled “Mission Command.” There we find Command defined:

Command is the authority that a commander in the armed forces lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or assignment. Command includes the authority and responsibility for effectively using available resources and for planning the employment of, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling military forces for the accomplishment of assigned missions. It also includes responsibility for health, welfare, morale, and discipline of assigned personnel.

We see command tied to a position in the organizational chart.  Generals have the power to command by virtue of position, and not by rank alone.  There are plenty of non-commanding generals (now days and during the Civil War). Think about the Hunt-Sickles interaction at Gettysburg, for an example where this comes into play.

There are three elements of command:

  • Authority – “the delegated power to judge, act, or commandIt includes responsibility, accountability, and delegation.”  In other words, a commander is responsible and accountable for all, but can (should) delegate execution.
  • Decisionmaking – “selecting a course of action as the most favorable to accomplish the mission.”  Ah!  The mission … as in what the unit must accomplish.  “Decisionmaking includes knowing if to decide, then when and what to decide, and understanding the consequences of decisions.”  And the manual reminds us, this is “both art and science.”
  • Leadership – “influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation – while operating to accomplish the mission….”  Notably, “the leadership of commanders ultimately includes the force of will.”

How about control?

… control is the regulation of forces and battlefield operating systems to accomplish the mission in accordance with the commander’s intent. It includes collecting, processing, displaying, storing, and disseminating relevant information for creating the common operational picture, and using information, primarily by the staff, during the operations process. Control allows commanders to disseminate their commander’s intent, execute decisions, and adjust their operations to reflect changing reality and enemy actions. It allows commanders to modify their commander’s visualization to account for changing circumstances. Control also allows commanders to identify times and points requiring new decisions during preparation and execution.

This also contains three main elements:

  • Information – “…in the general sense, is the meaning humans assign to data.” The modern spin on this is the commander will develop, through his staff, a common operating picture, shared with subordinates.  Applying “analysis and judgment” the commander reaches a situational understanding.  And that… well it becomes the foundation for decisionmaking.  There’s a lot more to the modern interpretation here… but let’s keep things simple for the moment.
  • Communication – “… means to use any means or method to convey information of any kind from one person to another.”  Communication is the commander’s voice.  Just that simple.
  • Structure – “… is a defined organization that establishes relationships among its elements or a procedure that establishes relationships among its activities.”  So not just who reports to whom. Consider here that repeatable practices, such as handling resupply or placement of guards at intersections, are structure.  These allow the commander’s intent to be exercised in absence of direct communication.  Structured behavior.

Finally, management… I include it in my definition, but you’ll find the modern military is short to describe that element.  There is a tendency to pit leadership against management, with leadership being the preferred quality.  One does not “manage” a firefight, but rather leads the command through it! Armies are led, don’t you know!   And management is something better conducted in the motor pool or supply room.

But let’s not relegate management to the logistical endeavors. Notice in the discussions above about command and control, we saw not a feather paid to tactics, operations, and strategy.  That’s because those are aspects of management.  To put it plainly, management in the military sense is the movement, placement, orientation, and maintenance the military unit.  And not just maintenance in the sense of greasing axles and cleaning muskets.  Rather, going to the broader sense to encompass all needed to maintain the unit’s presence in the operation and purchase on the situation toward accomplishment of the mission.

A lot of deep thinking here.  But let’s circle this back to the point of departure.  If we decide, in this historical sense, a general was not a good general – that is we find his generalship lacking – then I believe the burden of proof is on us. We have to lay out an assessment of that general’s behavior.  It should address how the general exercised command, control, and management.  And it should honestly demonstrate successes and failures, where ever they may be.

It is simply not enough to say the general left a flank open.  That may be a tactical sin, but is not necessarily an overwhelming condemnation of generalship.  It’s what brought the general to the decision about the flank… or his failure to communicate a better disposition… or his failure to exert his leadership… that we need to examine in order to derive a conclusion.  To do otherwise is certainly committing a sin … that of bad history!


The Artilleryman Magazine – Fall 2016 Issue

The fall issue of The Artilleryman Magazine arrived last Friday.  If you are not a subscriber already, I highly recommend this periodical.  Especially in the new, reworked format.

Articles in this issue include:

  • Schenkl Combination Fuse, by John D. Bartleson,Jr., CW04 (Ret.), USN – Detailed technical examination, backed up with lavish illustrations, on this type of fuse.  Added much to my understanding of Schenkl fuses.
  • Sherman’s Blunder Led to McPherson’s Death, by Stephen Davis, Ph.D. –  General James McPherson’s death occurred at a critical juncture of the Atlanta Campaign (I would argue a more critical point than John Reynold’s death).  This article explores the tactical details… and interprets the wartime site photos.
  • Lady Artillerists, by Gary Brown –  A look at some of the legends and lore behind female artilerists, drawing from American and European history… and pointing to the branch’s future as the military opens combat roles to female soldiers.
  • 25th Loomis’ Battery Long Range Artillery Match, by Don Lutz and Ericka Hoffman – Report from the July 30-31 authentic artillery competition.  Participants fired 584 rounds, in this 25th year of the match.  It is held on the Grayling Michigan National Guard Range Complex.
  • U.S. 30-Pounder Parrott Sight, by Thomas Bailey – Photos and essay discussing the arrangement and use of this type of sight, which we often see in wartime photos.
  • All Did Their Duty: Artillery at the Battle of Trenton, by Joshua Shepherd. “Trenton constituted the first great triumph for America’s field artillery….” Need we say more?
  • Is your Cannonball Explosive?, by John Biemeck, Colonel (Ret.) – An authoritative approach to handling Civil War era ordnance.  Very important read… and many lessons to take to heart.  Though I fear some will just read “it is OK to handle the projectiles” without fully reading the recommended practices.
  • Pair of French Naval Guns Captured by the British, by John Morris – Examination of two French short 6-pdrs (Model of 1786), from Fort Ticonderoga.

Also included is a news update from the US Army Artillery Museum.  The Artillery Bookshelf has a review of American Breechloading Mobile Artillery, 1875-1953.  And letters to the editor include a submission from myself, discussing a claim based on an Ordnance Return (I may provide more details down the road in a blog post).

I mentioned new format in the opening above.  That is about to become “newer” and extending to 64 pages in the Spring 2017 issue.  Jack Melton, who took over the magazine in 2015, has certainly taken the periodical to a higher level.  Illustrations jump off the page!  And as you see from the list of articles above, the content extends beyond just the gun tubes… touching upon other aspects of military history, though always relating back to the artillery of course.  Great work!

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – New York Independent Batteries (Part 1)

All told, thirty-six formations from New York received the designation “Independent Battery, Light Artillery” during the war.  Some of these were simply re-designation of existing batteries, to better align record keeping with practice (such as Battery L, 2nd New York Heavy discussed last week, which became the 34th Independent Battery).  Others were completely new batteries formed outside the regimental system.  Of those, some were short lived or never completely formed.  Still, these independent batteries were a rather substantial number of lines to account for in the quarterly summaries.  For the first quarter, 1863, there were thirty-two enumerated:


Let us look at these in batches, for better focus:


Starting with the first dozen:

  • 1st Independent Battery: At Belle Plain, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Andrew Cowan commanded the battery assigned to Second Division, Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • 2nd Independent Battery:  No return. At the start of the winter, Captain Louis Schirmer commanded this battery, assigned First Division, Eleventh Corps.  When Schirmer was promoted to command the corps’ artillery reserve later in the spring, Captain Hermann Jahn took command of the battery.
  • 3rd Independent Battery: At Potomac Creek, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts (an increase from the last quarter). The battery served in Second Division, Sixth Corps, under Lieutenant William A. Harn.
  • 4th Independent Battery: No return.  Assigned to Second Division, Third Corps. We are familiar with the 4th, thanks to their stand at the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, and know they had six 10-pdr Parrotts.  Through the winter, the battery saw several officers depart for other commands and Lieutenant George F. Barstow, 3rd US Artillery, took command late in the winter.  “The men were despondent,” Captain James E. Smith later recounted, “and became lax in their duties, not without some excuse.”  For this, and other reasons, Smith returned to command his old battery in May.
  • 5th Independent Battery: At Falmouth, Virginia with four 20-pdr Parrotts.   This was Captain Elijah D. Taft’s battery in the Army of the Potomac’s Artillery Reserve.
  • 6th Independent Battery: No location listed, but with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. At the start of the winter, the 6th was under Captain W. M. Bramhall and part of the Artillery Reserve.  By spring, Lieutenant Joseph W. Martin assumed command with the battery transferred to the Horse Artillery (First Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac).
  • 7th Independent Battery: At Norfolk, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Peter C. Regan’s battery supported the Seventh Corps.
  • 8th Independent Battery: At Yorktown, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Part of the Fourth Corps, on the Peninsula, Captain Butler Fitch commanded this battery.
  • 9th Independent Battery: Fort Reno, District of Colulmbia, with only infantry stores.  Captain Emil Schubert, of the 4th US Artillery, was commander of this battery, assigned to the Twenty-Second Corps.  As indicated, the battery was not equipped as light artillery.
  • 10th Independent Battery: At Falmouth with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Lieutenant Samuel Lewis replaced Captain John T. Bruen during the winter.  The battery remained with Third Division, Third Corps until later in the spring.
  • 11th Independent Battery: Also at Falmouth but with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Battery also assigned to Third Division, Third Corps. Lieutenant John E. Burton replaced Captain Albert Von Puttkammer in command.
  • 12th Independent Battery: At Camp Barry, Artillery Camp of Instruction, District of Columbia and reporting four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain George F. McKnight replaced Captain William H. Ellis.

A few changes in command and only one significant transfer through the winter.  And not many changes in the number and type of cannon.  Notice all these batteries served in the Eastern Theater.  More specifically, in Virginia and the defenses of Washington.

Only one battery reported smoothbores on hand:


But we have two lines?

  • 5th Battery:  56 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 10th Battery:  288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

Why would Taft’s Battery have canister for 6-pdr smoothbores?  Perhaps for use in their 20-pdr Parrotts.  The bore size was the same.  Notably, the battery didn’t report these in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, 10th Battery seemed short of ammunition for it’s Napoleons. No change from the previous quarter’s report.  Such leads me to believe someone made “quick work” of their duties.

Hotchkiss projectiles were favored for the 3-inch Ordnance Rifles in the Army of the Potomac, and accordingly, we see a lot of those reported on hand:


Six batteries with entries:

  • 1st Battery: 129 canister, 211 percussion shell, 370 fuse shell, and 570 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 59 canister, 285 percussion shell, 44 fuse shell, and 323 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery: 114 canister, 47 percussion shell, 259 fuse shell, and 715 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 8th Battery: 175 canister and 45 percussion shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 11th Battery: 151 canister, 258 fuse shell, and 775 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 137 canister, 73 percussion shell, 40 fuse shell, and 120 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Not to fret about the 8th Battery, as they were not short on ammunition.  Turning to the next page:


We see the 8th had Dyer’s patent projectiles:

  • 8th Battery:  369 shell and 650 shrapnel for 3-inch rifles.

And there are two Parrott batteries (not counting Smith’s which didn’t submit a report):

  • 3rd Battery: 480 shell , 480 case, and 190 canister of Parrott for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 5th Battery: 45 Parrott Shell for 20-pdr Parrotts.

And the last page of rifled projectiles has a couple more entry lines for Schenkl:


  • 1st Battery: 29 Schenkl shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 3rd Battery: 120 Schenkl shell for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Lastly, we turn to the small arms reported on hand:


Seems like everyone had something:

  • 1st Battery: Twenty-eight Navy revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and fifteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Four Army revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • 5th Battery: Twenty-three Army revolvers and twenty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery: 155 Navy revolvers, twenty cavalry sabers, and two horse artillery sabers.
  • 7th Battery: Eighteen Navy revolvers and twenty-six cavalry sabers.
  • 8th Battery: Fourteen Navy revolvers and fourteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: Fifty-eight Navy revolvers and eleven horse artillery sabers.
  • 11th Battery: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty-two cavalry sabers.
  • 12th Battery: Twenty-eight Army revolvers and twenty-nine horse artillery sabers.

For the next installment, we’ll look at the second batch of New York’s independent batteries – 13th through 24th.

Fortification Friday: Carefully place and construct Powder Magazines!

So you’ve built your works and improved it with a nice set of batteries.  Great!  Are those walls and obstacles all that is needed to scare away an attacker?  Probably not.  At some point, the defenders will need to do more than sit being the parapet.  They will need to do some shooting.  And shooting requires, among other things, gunpowder and projectiles.  Lots of gunpowder and projectiles.  But those are things one does not just have laying about in the open.  Not to mention the danger of explosions, gunpowder tends to deteriorate if not properly stored and maintained.  Thus the need for powder magazines.

Mahan registered the requirements of such powder magazines in his treatise:

Powder magazines. The main objects to be attended to in a powder magazine are, to place it in the position least exposed to the enemy’s fire; to make it shot proof; and to secure the powder from moisture.

Point of order here.  Mahan singled out powder magazines specifically as places where ammunition was kept. Defenders might build various protective structures for other uses, but the powder magazine’s arrangements were to directly address the needs of storing ammunition. Point to remember later when we look at other types of internal structures.

Also note the use of the word “shotproof” here.  Specifically that requirement is to prevent solid shot from battering the structure.  Bombproof would, of course, involve resisting enemy shells.  But from the text, it is not clear that Mahan made a distinction here… just food for thought.

Don’t know that I’d rank these three requirements, as all are important.  But I’d offer that the professor gave us his preferences in reverse order!  That is if he had such rankings.  Consider the next paragraph:

If there are traverses, such for example, as are used in defilement, the magazines may be made in them; or they may be placed at the foot of a barbette; or, in dry soils, be made partly under ground.

Egad!  A traverse, as we learned, is a structure designed to sit in the way of the enemy’s anticipated line of fire… so as to intercept those fires.  So much for “least exposed”….

But let us focus on the practical aspects of the magazines:

The magazines should be at least six feet high, and about the same width within; its length will depend on the quantity of ammunition. It may be constructed of facines, gabions, or cofferwork, or any means found at hand may be used which will effect the end in view.

I’ve not seen any justification for the six foot dimensions.  Perhaps just the average height of the men servicing the ammunition.  Hey, you need to save that back for throwing back the enemy’s assaulting troops!  And we see mention here of some revetment types in order to strengthen the magazine beyond that of plain soil.  But cofferwork is a new phrase, implying a more complex magazine arrangement.  Let us hold off details of that and focus on the basic work.

If [fascines] are used, the sides should slope outwards to resist the pressure of the earth; the fascines should be firmly secured by pickets and anchoring withes.  The top may be formed by a row of joists, of six-inch scantling, placed about two and-a-half feet apart; these should be covered by two layers of fascines laid side by side, and the whole be covered in by at least three feet thickness of earth.

Figure 34 illustrates these arrangements:


The figure shows a magazine buried at all sides.  So assume the placement is correct and sufficient earth is employed to make the structure shotproof as required.  Thus we focus on the internal arrangements.  As required, the fascines are secured and anchored.  Notice these are slanted (“sloped outward”) as necessary for support.  The floor is six feet wide.  Six feet above that is an eight feet wide ceiling, constructed with six-inch wide beams (scantling).  Those support two layers of fascines, laid in opposite orders.  And atop that, another three feet of earth.   Shotproof!

But let us look at details below the floor:

The bottom should be covered by a flooring of joists and boards; a shallow ditch being left under the flooring, with a pitch towards the door of the magazine, to allow any water that might leak through to be taken out.  A thatch of straw might be used on the inside, but it is somewhat dangerous, owing to its combustibility; hides or tarpaulins are better, and will keep out the moisture more effectually.

Thus, we see all three requirements addressed in this basic magazine. Nice notes here as to drainage.

Mahan was concerned mostly with construction of the magazine.  He did not address directly maintenance needed, which was of just as much importance.  Beyond just keeping earth on the magazine and the internal structure strengthened, the magazine need be tidy and organized.  Not only to reduce risks of accidental explosions, but also so that retrieval of ammunition was quick and easy.

And speaking to accidents, a good engineer would confront such risks.  To some degree the slope of the magazine wall would focus the force of an explosion upwards and out. The sides of the magazine should be thicker, or at least more resistant, than the roof, so as to allow the venting of such force.  But those were just mitigations against the risk.  The first line of defense against such risk was proper handling and maintenance of the ammunition.

With the basics of the magazine established, let us turn next to more elaborate arrangements.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 58-9.)

Tonight on Caption-Busters: That Battery L, 2nd New York photo….

In my opinion, Public Broadcasting or one of the various documentary cable channels would do well with a series that explores old photos (not just Civil War photos, but you know where my preference would be) and matches them up to specific locations, times, and persons.  Certainly there are interesting stories as to how the image got onto glass plate.  Beyond that, there are so many cases where the photo is not what we think it is.  Such is the case of the Battery L, 2nd New York photo from yesterday’s post:


There is no doubt the photo was taken at Fort C.F. Smith, with the nice sign there in the background.  But as I said yesterday, the service record of Battery L does not place it at Fort C.F. Smith… at least not long enough for any reporting period.  So that is a question which needed to be resolved.

When preparing the post, my first take on the gun was that it appeared to be a Napoleon.  Then I looked at the muzzle, which under low resolution appeared to extend straight to the length expected for the Ordnance Rifle.  The color of the tube, in black and white, may be bronze or it may be the natural metal color.  But if we go for the latter, then another question comes into play – why was it not painted?

Two strikes.  But I figured if the Library of Congress retained the caption and the New York State Military Museum agreed, then maybe I shouldn’t ask any more questions.

Reader John Wells further questioned the photo.  And that prompted me to start looking in higher resolution.  And particularly the muzzle:


Maybe it is straight.  Looks more like a muzzle swell to me.  But with whatever is draped over the muzzle in the way, hard to tell.  (Doesn’t that look like a vest laying over the muzzle?)

So a breaking ball on the corner… and the umpire is not in a generous mood.  A foul ball.  Still two strikes.

But, we have a pitcher’s count.  And here’s the put away pitch:


Hat brass – this is not Battery L.  Appears to be Battery K of some regiment other than the second. Looks like a one to me.  But Benjamin Cooling’s Mr. Lincoln’s Forts mentions Battery K, 2nd New York Heavy rotating through the fort during the war (and likewise identified the battery in the photo we are questioning).

So clearly not Battery L. And I’d even have to question the regiment’s identification when noting the badge on the fellow to the right of the snip (above).  Is that a corps badge?  Second Corps? Fifth Corps?  Sixth Corps?

Two others have similar badges, including the fellow on the left leaning on the wheel:


But the badge is on the left breast, not the right.

Though I would point out, there is a mixture of artillery and infantry accouterments (cap pouches and bayonet frogs) among the crew.

Lesson re-learned… never trust Library of Congress captions.  Not that the Library is suspect.  Not at all. Rather the information passed to them, often from the original distributor of the printed image, is sometimes… too many times… suspect.


Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 2nd New York Heavy and 3rd New York Cavalry

Before moving on to the New York Independent Batteries, there are two lines to clean up for the first quarter, 1863.  Sandwiched between the returns for the 1st Regiment and 3rd Regiment is a lone line for Battery L, 2nd New York Heavy.  And at the bottom of the page is an entry for artillery assigned to the 3rd New York Cavalry.  I’ve split the lines here so we can focus without those light regiments in the way:


Transcribing the lines:

  • Battery L, 2nd New York Artillery: At Crab Orchard, Kentucky with four 3-inch rifles.
  • Section “attached to 3rd New York Volunteer Cavalry”:  At New Bern, North Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers.

As we don’t have a lot else to discuss, let’s take a closer look at these two.

Battery L was among those missing from the previous quarter and I am at a loss to explain why I didn’t mention such!  So let’s introduce them formally.  The battery was recruited at Flushing, New York by Captain Thomas L. Robinson.  It was known as the Hamilton Artillery and Flushing Artillery at times.  But was formally Artillery Company of the 15th New York Militia.  Before leaving the state, the battery was assigned to the 2nd New York Artillery.  Though a “heavy” regiment, it was not uncommon to have a light battery assigned.  Robinson’s battery might have filled in as Battery L for the 3rd New York, but they were still training at Camp Barry when Burnside’s North Carolina Expedition departed.  When Robinson left the service, Captain Jacob Roemer assumed command.  And around that time, the battery was assigned to the Army of Virginia.  The battery saw action at Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, but remained in the Washington Defenses for the Maryland Campaign.  Battery L returned to the field for Fredericksburg as part of Ninth Corps (Second Division).  When the Ninth Corps transferred west, Battery L was among them, Roemer still in command.

Crab Orchard, Kentucky?  That location appears on September 1863 dispatches related to the battery.  I may be splitting hairs, but the battery’s duty location was listed as Paris, Kentucky in April of that year.

But we have some asterisks to address on the unit designation.  In November 1863, Roemer’s Battery became the 34th New York Independent Battery.  A new Battery L, 2nd New York Heavy was recruited in its place.  Meanwhile the 34th came back east with the Ninth Corps for the Overland Campaign.  Lots of changes, but follow the ball.  We’ll see this same battery on a different line on future summaries.

However, there is the matter of this photo:


“Fort C.F. Smith, Co. L, 2d New York Artillery” the caption says. No disputing the location. And that is a 3-inch Ordnance Rifle.  But which Battery L?  This could be the “original” just before leaving the Washington Defenses in 1862.  Or perhaps during the Antietam Campaign when the battery was also posted to the capital (though returns place the battery on the Maryland side of the Potomac).  Or is this the “new” Battery L later in the war?  Sure would be nice to link that rifle in the photo to one tallied in the summary.  (UPDATE: Or maybe this isn’t even Battery LOr maybe this isn’t even Battery L….)

Turning now to the 3rd New York Cavalry, as mentioned for the forth quarter, 1862 summary, I believe this to be Allee’s Howitzers.  However, that same line indicated mountain howitzers the previous quarter.  We may have a transcription error.  Even worse, to the right of the cannon columns, the clerks indicated the section had two 6-pdr carriages and two 12-pdr howitzer caissons. Go figure.

And I’ll tell you something else strange about that section assigned to the 3rd New York Cavalry:


Apparently they had no ammunition!

So readers don’t feel cheated, that section did report having some stores on hand: two each – sponge buckets, tar buckets, fuse gauges, gimlets, gunner’s haversacks,  pick axes, felling axes, priming wires, shoves, sponge covers, vent covers, padlocks, claw hammers, hand saws, and wrenches.  Also six sets of harness traces, four lanyards, six nose bags, six tarps, four tube punches, four whips, 98 leather bridles, 99 leather harnesses, and one packing box.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, Battery L did have ammunition to fire:


Hotchkiss columns first:

  • Battery L:  83 canister, 32 percussion shell, 336(?) fuse shell, and 324 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

But nothing to see on the next page:


Moving right along to the last page of ammunition:


  • Battery L: 30 Schenkl 3-inch shells.

Throw in some small arms:


Again, just Battery L, as we assume the 3rd Cavalry reported theirs on a separate set of “cavalry” forms:

  • Battery L: 15 Navy revolvers and fifteen horse artillery sabers.

There you have it… A battery and a section.  Four Ordnance Rifles and two howitzers.  805 projectiles for the rifles.  Fifteen pistols and fifteen sabers.  And I stretched that out to make a blog post.

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 3rd New York Light Artillery Regiment

Given the nature of mustering, organizing, and outfitting, it was rare that all the batteries of a light artillery regiment went to war as a set.  Arguably, that is what happened with the 3rd New York Light Artillery Regiment.  Arguably… as the regiment was also not completely outfitted as light artillery, serving as heavy artillery.  I briefly discussed the regiment’s formation in the preface to the fourth quarter return.  And we saw the regiment (minus Battery L, which was really just a paper designation) served in North Carolina, mostly around New Bern.  With the new year changes came.  First, Colonel James H. Ledlie became the Chief of Artillery, Eighteenth Corps.  Lieutenant-Colonel Charles H. Stewart then assumed command of the regiment, with Lieutenant-Colonel Henry M. Stone as second in command.  But the regiment was not to remain intact.  Major-General David Hunter called for reinforcements for his planned offensive on Charleston.  Along with other units, Major-General John Foster sent Batteries A, B, C, D, E, F, and I to the Department of the South.  The other batteries remained in North Carolina, and many men saw action in the Siege of Washington, March 30-April 20, 1863.

With those changes in mind, what do we see on the returns for the quarter?


Strictly according to the clerks at the Ordnance Department:

  • Battery A: No return.
  • Battery B: No location listed, but reporting six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: Infantry Stores, New Bern, North Carolina.
  • Battery D: Infantry Stores, New Bern, North Carolina.
  • Battery E: New Berne, armed with two 24-pdr and two 32-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: No return.
  • Battery G: No return.
  • Battery H: New Berne with six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery I: New Berne reporting four 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: New Berne with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • Battery L: No return.  Again, this battery did not exist
  • Battery M: Infantry Stores, New Bern, North Carolina.

But allow me to reconcile these lines against details from the regimental history.  First off, the batteries, or sections thereof, transferred to South Carolina:

  • Battery A: Lieutenant Martin Laughlin with 60 men to serve as heavy artillery, armed with rifles.
  • Battery B: Captain Joseph J. Morrison, with 102 men serving six 12-pdr Napoleons.  (Although Captain James B. Ashcroft appears on other records.)
  • Battery C: Lieutenant Charles B. Randolph with 26 men serving as heavy artillery.
  • Battery D: Lieutenant Luke Brannick with 25 men serving as heavy artillery.
  • Battery E: Captain Theodore H. Schenck with 90 men also serving as heavy artillery. Presumably leaving the heavy howitzers in North Carolina.
  • Battery F: Captain Edwin S. Jenny (when promoted, replaced by Captain David A. Taylor) and 94 men with six 6-pdr Wiards (Though I question if that caliber or the 12-pdrs were assigned).
  • Battery I: Lieutenant George W. Thomas, 98 men, and six 12-pdr Napoleons (in lieu of 20-pdr Parrotts?).  (However, Captain John H. Ammon was listed as battery commander.)

Note that some batteries were reduced much in manpower, in part due to expiration of enlistments.  We see some matches to the returns, with equipment reported.  And some clear misses!  And we might correctly allocate Batteries A, B, E, and I, at least, to Port Royal at this time.  These seven batteries/sections were carried on some returns as a battalion, under Schenk. (And I would mention, as a shameless promotion of other blog posts, you readers are familiar with these batteries from their work during the summer of 1863 on Morris Island.)

Back in North Carolina, Battery G was part of the Washington (North Carolina) garrison.   Batteries H, K, and M reported from New Bern. Sections, or at least detachments, from Batteries E, F, and I remained at New Bern. Thus we have some reconciliation between the actual duty location and that indicated on the summary.  Of those not mentioned above, here were the battery commander assignments:

  • Battery G:  Captain John Wall.
  • Battery H:  Captain William J. Riggs.
  • Battery K: Captain James R. Angel.
  • Battery M:  Captain John H. Howell.

I’ve spent much longer discussing the organization and activities of the regiment, as that sets up for a longer discussion, during the next couple of quarters, as batteries were mustered out and replaced.  And besides, with all those “Infantry Stores” lines, there are not a lot of artillery projectiles to count!

Turning beyond that organizational aspect of the 3rd New York, let us look at ammunition on hand.  First the smoothbore:


Three batteries to consider:

  • Battery B: 648 shot, 408 shell, 848 case, and 440 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon (I believe column entries for shell is another clerking error.)
  • Battery E: 42 shell, 166 case, 42 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers; 66 shell, 130 case, and 48 canister for 32-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 439 shot, 130 shell, 464 case, and 160 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.  (Again, the entry for case appears to be a transcription error by the clerks.)

We see above that Battery E did not take the big howitzers to South Carolina.  Later, there are reports of howitzers of those calibers around New Bern.  So I assume those were transferred to the garrison there.

Moving to ammunition for the rifles, there are short entries:


Just one battery with Hotchkiss:

  • Battery K: 184 canister, 160 percussion shell, 287 fuse shell, 452 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

On the next page of rifled projectiles, we can focus on entries for Parrott-types:


And that is for 20-pdrs that we might assume, based on regimental history, were left in North Carolina:

  • Battery I: 541 shell and 450 case shot for 20-pdr Parrotts.

Moving to the third page, likewise only one line reporting… and that on the far right of the section:



  • Battery I: 123 Tatham 3.67-inch canister.

While Tatham is most associated with James and other bronze rifles, the 20-pdr Parrott’s bore was 3.67-inch.

Lastly, we turn to the small arms:


By battery reporting:

  • Battery B: Twenty Army revolvers and thirty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Nineteen Navy revolvers, two cavalry sabers, and thirty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Thirty-one Navy revolvers and fifty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Ten Army revolvers, nine Navy revolvers, and forty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: Twenty-seven Navy revolvers, three cavalry sabers, and fifty-two horse artillery sabers.

Would be interesting to have a full set of returns for the small arms.  Some of the “heavy” batteries are listed here, but not all.  Given the nature of the 3rd regiment’s service at this point in the war, it is odd not to see long guns reported.
(Details of the 3rd New York Artillery’s service from Henry Hall and James Hall, Cayuga in the field : a record of the 19th N. Y. Volunteers, all the batteries of the 3d New York Artillery, and 75th New York Volunteers, Auburn, New York, 1873.)